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May - June 2007— Volume 20, Number 3
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International Diversity Day–May 21st
To further the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity by UNESCO on November 2001, the General Assembly, in Resolution 57/249, welcomed the Declaration and the main lines of an Action Plan for its implementation, and proclaimed 21 May the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Great site for Peace-full things: Check
pace of life is slowed by the heat and humidity. A
common relief is a quick, cold-steep tea called tereré. Drinking
it is an ancient communal custom. In the calm Paraguayan
routine, anyone can be the server. The guampa (handleless
cup packed with the herb) and bombilla (metal
straw that filters) is passed by the server to each
person. Everyone knows that their turn to sip will
come. Conversation is likewise tranquil, each person
talks as long as desired and the gathered listen. Side-talk
is quiet and accepted.
At the municipal garbage dump El Vertedero, in a shaded area by the side of the road, women and children gathered to talk with a Paraguayan organizer. Tereré went around. Their conversation was not orderly as is common in their meetings. The wise-cracking and laughter flowed in all directions, punctuated by occasions of seriousness when decisions needed to be made.
La Comisión de Mujeres (Women’s Commission) was meeting to discuss who would work at the new lunch program that would soon open to feed their children. La Presidenta wore a bright green, new smock to cover her clothes that were thoroughly soiled by a day’s work mining the garbage. La indigena (a Paraguayan with virtually no European ancestors) wore a multi-colored dress; the infant in her arms was wrapped in cotton to protect her from wind-blown dust. Her toddler was wide-eyed, bare-foot, and grime-covered. The new mother with her infant looked no more than fourteen years old. In all, there were eight women and a dozen children.
The Paraguayan organizer is always present at commission meetings. He is helping them prepare for their eviction from the dump in 2008. My role is to observe and review events with the organizer, confirming or expanding his perspective.
the meeting adjourned, about half of the women walked
to a group of homes in a grove of small trees. Their
homes, constructed from recycled things, somehow withstand
the torrential rains that move through here, but stench
from the mud, garbage and hog manure assaults the senses
and flies attack the skin.
A second gathering grew as men and women came in from work under today’s hot sun to convene a meeting of La Comisión del Vertedero (representing all residents that live and work in the dump). The Paraguayan organizer facilitated this meeting, also.
Together, the two commissions form a cooperative enterprise, owned by the workers, to lead the organizing effort to create a viable future. La Comisión del Vertedero was approved for a US $36,000 grant to create the cooperative to run three businesses –worm compost, recycling and flower production.
This particular meeting covered a broad range of topics, shifting from Guarani to Spanish as needed for the foreigners. The Project Coordinator for Crecer Con Futuro (CCF, a non-profit organization from Spain that is doing charitable work at the dump) was invited.
The President of the commission requested that CCF schedule another meeting with the mayor. It has been over one-and-a-half years since the census was submitted by CCF, but citizen identification cards have not yet been issued to the people living in the city’s garbage. The ID cards are a basic right of citizenship in Paraguay and are required to move freely throughout the country.
the day at the dump, I headed home and entered my living
quarters in a poor barrio in town. Things were hot
to the touch, turning my thoughts to our solar oven
project. The cooperative hopes to provide a solar oven
to each family being evicted from the dump. At present,
garbage dump residents use scavanged wood for cooking
fuel. In town, bottled gas is most commonly used along
with wood. Some families have small electric appliances.
The expense of cooking fuel is a major portion of every
cost-of-living. In 2006, the Paraguayan government declined an
offer from Bolivia to sell bottled gas to Paraguay at a discount.
Life will continue to be difficult here, and the use of solar
energy will help.
My role has been to design a solar oven that is easy to build and use, cooks efficiently, is inexpensive, is durable and is easy to repair. Some neighbors have been watching me tinker and experiment in the patio. Their response consistently has been “How long does it take?” Their faces reveal a polite and disinterested smile when the good news is given: “It cooks a supper, ready by the end of the day.” After a month of this kind of interaction, a neighbor laughed warmly when I asked if what is needed is el almuerzo (the mid-day, main meal.) No one would tell me directly. Culture affects design.
By Tim Muldrew, PCV Zambia
I am still alive (a few close shaves here and there – read
on). Allow me to give you a small glimpse of my experiences
so far as a volunteer in Zambia.
at the Village
I stayed for about a week at the headmaster’s house while he and his family were out on school break. Next door to his house was a family of eight that I got to know pretty well. The father is a math teacher at the primary school. (Months later, I now work with him teaching the Chongolo “Millipede” Club, an afterschool club that is part of a national organization focusing on environmental issues in Zambia.) The mother runs the house during the day. They have four girls and two boys, all under 13. I ate most of my meals at their house. After dinner, we danced traditional dances such as the Katimbo, Manchancha, and Shonongo. I thoroughly enjoyed that first week because of the friendships. Since I moved into my own house, I still remain very close with this family. Looking back, I’m know I would not be as well integrated in my community if my house had been ready at my arrival. On the other hand, I felt that after having lived at the school, I was a little secluded from the rest of the community. I tried to offset this by spending my afternoons at the marketplace.
The market is at the intersection of the paved main road and the dirt road leading to the school. It serves as a hub for transactions, social gatherings, drinking, and playing games. In the beginning of my service, I hung out there a lot. I brought my frisbee and hacky sack to play with the kids. I even began to teach chess, and this led to teaching a weekly school club. You never know, the next world champion chess player may hail from Zambia! I also learned a game called “draft” which is like checkers on steroids. In the game, all pieces can jump backwards, kings can jump as many spaces as they want, and if your opponent misses a jump, you get to take their piece and receive an extra move.
Early on, I was faced with a choice: I could save my pride by secluding myself until I was comfortable with my situation, or I could make a fool out of myself at least ten times a day for butchering the language and for not being as strong or as fast as other Zambians. I chose the latter. Now, whether facing down a headmaster, teaching in the classroom, playing football, conducting a meeting, being stared at or called muzungu—it doesn’t bother me much. I am rarely in my house. If I did mind what people thought, Zambia might get the best of me. The important thing is to take everything in stride and even laugh at myself.
Sometimes you have to wait many hours before being picked up. I used to get impatient sitting beside the road waiting, but the act of waiting began to hold its own allure. It is kind of comforting that I don’t need to be anywhere anytime soon. So what if I miss transport, and I have to stay at the nearest volunteer’s house? My village will still be there the next day. Zambia has its own pace; it’s own rhythm. You can’t rush things.
Some of you may have also heard about my snake encounter. I was clearing up my house when I heard a rustle. I thought it might be a rat, but the amount of things that were being displaced made it seem too large. I didn’t even have a chance for this to register before a large cobra reared up about three feet in front of me. It spit out a stream of venom that caught me in one of my eyes. I yelled and bolted from my house as fast I could. Two kids outside my house also ran because they heard me yell and didn’t know what was happening. I went across the street to my neighbor’s. I was half blinded from the venom-induced burning in my eyes. My senior headman was away from his house at the time, but his wife gave me clean water to wash out my eyes. She put some medicine in my eyes to lessen the pain. Soon after, men carrying large sticks began to appear and we headed back to my house. I decided to leave killing the snake to the professionals. My door was still ajar from when I ran out. I felt certain that the snake was still inside. I gestured to my house and said, “mulolo mu nzubo” (snake in house) to the men carrying long sticks. Standing well outside my door, they shifted things around inside with the sticks until they located the snake. They prodded it with three long sticks to line it up for multiple smashes to its head.
Then they picked the limp body of the snake up with a stick and brought it outside to my yard. It was over one meter long and about two inches thick. My senior headman arrived later and dripped a traditional snake venom medicine into my eye. I thanked them for their assistance and tried to rest in my house. Several hours later, after a lot of crying out the venom and washing my eye, the pain began to ebb and finally stopped.
No traditional Zambian meal is complete without relishes. In America, “relish” is something we put on hotdogs. In Zambia, relishes include all vegetable and meat products that are drenched in oil and eaten along with nshima.
“Meat products” are anything that moves except, oddly enough, reptiles, amphibians, and hawks. So far, I have consumed chicken, beef, pig, dry fish, fresh fish, eel, guinea fowl, goat, antelope, caterpillar, rat, mice, and giant rat. Although it is hard to come by, I prefer chicken. When I went to Lusaka, I tried crocodile meat at the crocodile farm (although many Zambians would not consider crocodile an acceptable meat).
(vegetables) are the main relish I consume because
meat is hard to come by. Bishu includes potatoes, yams,
beans, maize, soya pieces, Chinese cabbage, sweet potato
leaves and root, okra, cassava leaves and root, cabbage,
swiss chard, rape, eggplant, and some types of weeds.
My favorite is eggplant. To eat a relish, roll a small
bit of nshima paste into a ball, make a small indentation
in it, and scoop up the relish with the nshima.
It has been eleven months since I have lived within the protection of my father´s walls. Eleven months ago I left both my father and mother to pursue my own dreams in an Ecuadorian village where walls, if painted at all, are sullied by the smudges, smears and stains of poverty. The first step toward making my house feel like home was painting the walls in a fashion I knew would make my dad proud. This past week not only provided my father and mother the opportunity to see those walls, but also to experience my daily life in Ecuador. For me it provided a glimpse into parenthood.
Babies are born into this world completely naive, entirely unable to communicate, oblivious to the dangers around them and unable to fend for themselves; such were my parents as they walked off the plane in Quito. And, like a new parent, responsible to defend her flesh and blood against all that is evil in this world, I tried desperately to protect my father and mother from pickpockets, stomach parasites and el español.
a paranoid mother aware of how capable this world is
of harming her child, I cautioned my parents to leave
all valuables in the hotel and to be continuously vigilant
of the undercover thieves we would encounter in the
capital. Recounting the full panoply of worse-case
scenarios, I prepared my parents to walk through a
district as famous for its gringo-friendly shops and
restaurants as it is infamous for its gringo-partial
pickpockets. Ironically, it was my own camera that
was stolen right out of the case suspended from my
neck. Like my own unselfish mother, I was so worried
about the wellbeing of my little chickadees that I
forgot to think of myself.
In the ongoing effort to protect my parents from harm, I insisted on spending the extra time and money eating at reputable restaurants, which, I believed, would only serve healthy, wholesome and amoeba-free food to my parents´ susceptible stomachs. Imagine my feelings of failure then, on Day 5, when my mother awoke ill, an aggressor having slipped past the protection of her inadequate guardian. I wondered if this is how awful my mother felt when, at the age of 8, despite all she had done to shield me from pain, I dropped a boulder on my tiny toes and split the skin right open. Knowing my toe faced imminent infection, my mother washed out the wound with antibacterial cleanser, and when the cleanser hurt worse than the bone-crushing boulder, she assured me with an encouraging smile that the stinging meant the medicine was working. I forgot how it felt to receive that kind of parental assurance that seems so contrary to a child´s common sense until I told my mom she had to drink every last drop of that vile concoction of rehydration salts designed to restore the electrolytes her body had lost during her illness. I assured her with an encouraging smile that the repulsive taste meant the medicine was working.
While taking on the responsibilities of tour director felt a lot like parenting, no task was more taxing than translating. My parents, like small children, were not able to express their feelings or desires to the rest of the world. As a result, they relied on me to communicate for them–to direct the taxi driver, to read the menu, to ask for the location of the bathroom, to inquire about the duration of the ride. For ten days, I served as the liaison between the language we spoke together and the language everyone else understood.
When the final day of the trip arrived, my parents still happy and healthy, I felt a sense of satisfaction in my newfound motherly role. Since then, however, my parents have returned to the United States, resumed checking on me with weekly phone calls, and, it seems, recommenced their roles as my parents. But before all that could happen, I said goodbye, returned to my village and walked into my room to discover a little gift my father had left me: a greasy handprint, smack in the middle of my previously perfect wall
Bitten by the Travel Bug
By Florence Williams Welch, Western Samoa 1983-85; Niger 1986; Jamaica 1995-97
Sorry, I am unable to write an article for your newsletter because I am completing my second travel journal and still have a third to write. You see, in 1979, 80, and 81 I traveled America on a Greyhound bus writing Haiku poems and painting watercolor scenes of America. In 2004, I finally sat down and worked on the first journal that covered thirty-three states in the summer, fall and early winter of 1979-80. I traveled the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states in the summer, New England, up-state New York, and the Great Lakes in the fall.
The trip was interrupted when an S.O.S from my teenage son, who lived with his father in Los Angeles, turned me around and I headed to California. I traveled Greyhound through the southwestern states, and after I settled the problem for him, I traveled up the Pacific Coast, across the Northern Rockies and back to New York.
I had just completed my Masters in Religion at Fordham University in Bronx, New York. I took a job working for the City of New York for two years, then decided to return to California where my children were living. When I turned in my resignation, I was told I had sick-leave coming and should take it. So, in the spring of ‘81, I spent ten days traveling the south and southeastern states on Greyhound.
Because of the limited time, I took photos to paint later. My son joined me, and we continued the trek across country traveling to the states I missed earlier. We covered the southern Rockies taking photos through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, arriving in California for Mother’s Day, 1981.
As life would have it, I had two Peace Corps assignments in Western Samoa and Niger, lived in Germany on two occasions, and called both New York and Florida home, before leaving for my third Peace Corps Assignment in Jamaica, returning to California in 1997. In 2004, when I finally started working on the journal to accompany the poems and paintings, I had the original sketchbook of watercolors, but could not find the photos. My son suggested I take the southern and south Rocky Mountain trips again. With an autistic granddaughter, I knew I could not take the Greyhound bus. In spring of 2005 we flew to the East Coast and began what would be a 15,000 mile car trip that took us from Maryland down to Tennessee, across to Little Rock, Arkansas, then down to New Orleans, following the Gulf Coast to Key West and back up the Atlantic Seaboard.
From Washington, we flew to Anchorage, Alaska. That was the only state I had not traveled. In the fall of that year, we flew to South Carolina and helped my cousin move to California, retaking photos of the Rockies that I had lost.
Would you believe, in fall 2006, the son I’d lived with in 1981 called to say boxes he’d stored in his mother-in-law’s garage belonged to me. My son of the travels brought the boxes of photos and paintings home to me here in Carlsbad. Yes, here were all the photos lost for twenty-some years.
So now I’m having to step back and regroup to see how I can work with both the original photos and the gold-mine of photos taken in 2005. I have work to do!
By Sean Anderson, Romania (2002-04)
What is this, and what does it have to do with Peace Corps?
Let me bring you up to speed. You see, every year the Banff Center in Canada hosts a Mountain Film Festival. Professional and amateur filmmakers from around the world submit their works for evaluation. The film categories are mountain culture, adventure and sport. The festival-winning films then tour the world, and San Diego is privileged to be one of their stops thanks to sponsorship by the Natural History Museum and Adventure 16.
We vicariously enjoyed kayaking the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, base jumping in Mali, West Africa, climbing in British Columbia, extreme mountain biking, and much more.
We only caught one day, but the film festival lasts three days with different films each day. As RPCVs, we could relate to some of the cross-cultural stories as well as be transported by the incredible cinematography. Next year, join us! I know you will not be disappointed.
For more information check out http://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved through understanding. – Albert Einstein
May is almost here and it is time yet again for Board elections! I have been privileged to serve on the Board for the past four years and am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with some wonderful people and meet so many of our great members. Our organization continues to make great strides, offering a variety of service and social events, grants to current Peace Corps Volunteers, an extraordinary newsletter and website, and dedicated membership support. I am so proud of everyone who has committed their time and energy to SDPCA.
It is now your chance to be a part of this dynamic organization’s leadership! Please consider the opportunity to guide your local RPCV community---one evening a month and some time in between for the committee on which you are serving. Worried about the time commitment? Team up with a buddy to “share” the duties of something like Fundraising or Community Action.
and I look forward to seeing some of you on the 2007-2008
3/7/07–Marjory Clyne, Lynn Jarrett, Sharon Kennedy-Darrough, Sira Perez, and Nikol Shaw
Speaker’s Bureau: Sira reported that a SDPCA speaker spoke at two Rotary Clubs and one Cub Scout group in the past month. Two RPCVs spoke at High Tech High. Girl Scout and Lion’s Club speaking events are coming up. SDPCA speakers are participating in Peace Corps General Information Meetings at UCSD.
Social: Cultural Kitchen (March 1) - 80 attendees, representing 4+ organizations. 47 SDPCA members/friends responded. Banff Film Fest (March 24) - Evite sent. Annual Meeting (May) - May 19th.
Fundraising: Marjory reported that she is still selling a few calendars. We have sold all of the calendars except for 8 and the 17 which will be given to the donors to the Mark J Tonner Fund.
Communications and Membership: Current 112; past due 6 months–14; past due 12 months–62; 13 free members and one new member.
Global Awards: Nikol reported that our one award recipient (the coffee project) is ETing for family emergency reasons. Nikol sent e-mails to all of the country directors on Friday and 5 bounced back. She will resend the letter to the second in command. One CD wrote back and said thanks. Nikol has already received 2 more proposals for the next go around.
4/11/07 –Marjory Clyne, Lynn Jarrett, Sharon Kennedy-Darrough, Kate McDevitt, Nikol Shaw
President’s Report: Board members should prepare their binders to be given to the next person to take their position; Reaffiliation with NPCA is complete.
Membership: SDPCA current member 124; past due 40 members; from past 6 months–11; 17 free members and 4 new members.
Community Action: Rock’n’Roll marathon is June 3. SDPCA is staffing one of the water stations.
Fundraising: Auction update – Marjory has gotten some items donated for the May Celebration and meeting and she will continue to get more items. Idea came up for having services/dinners donated by members for the event as well. Earth DayApril 22nd – still needs a few more people to help out. Marjory will contact the recently returned volunteers to see if they will help.
Global Awards: Deadline is May 1 and we already have five proposals.
Social: Banff Mountain Film Festival was great – 13 SDPCA members attended with 8 showing up for the pre-show happy hour. Cultural Kitchen was very well attended with 48 SDPCA members. Future events:Cultural Kitchen in June at Hostelling International in Point Loma – SDPCA members teach how to cook a meal and then someone from the Speaker’s Bureau can talk about Peace Corps. Hostelling International is hosting their Peace Conference in spring 2008 in San Diego and they have invited SDPCA to participate at no cost.
Old Business: Global Awareness Award: several organizations were nominated. Vote: Motioned and seconded for One World Our World. Passed!
year is the 20th anniversary for SDPCA! March
1988 was initial month/year.
Enrique’s Journey is a non-fiction re-creation of a boy’s journey from Honduras, mostly on the tops of trains, to try to find his mother in the United States. The writer met him during his trip, and again at the end of his trip, then flew to Honduras and took the same trip he had. She interviewed people from his story as she went, and wove Enrique’s true story with others to tell the hardships endured every year by children trying to join their parents in the US.
book is both frightening and fascinating as we experience
vicariously the violence and kindnesses of people he
met along the way. Enrique’s Journey
is based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series by
Nazario that won two Pulitzer Prizes. HBO is filming
a mini-series of the book—read it before then!
have the nations of the world had so much to lose,
or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet,
or together we shall perish in its flames.
RPCV Founder of NETFLIX
“I started my first company, pure Software, in 1991. I was 31. As the company grew from 10 to 640 employees, I found I was definitely underwater and over my head.” So, he sold it.
One day he lost a rented “Apollo 13” video. “It was six weeks late and I owed the video store $40. I had misplaced the cassette. It was all my fault. I didn’t want to tell my wife about it.” On his way to a workout, he realized his gym had a better business model. “You could pay $30 or $40 a month and work out as little or as much as you wanted.” Hastings founded Netflix in 1998.
Check it out: http://www.netflix.com/
Diego Spanish Tertulia
Peace Corps Palette
If I could take one restaurant with me when I leave San Diego, it would be World Curry. If you think you’ve tried curry, think again. This delicious little place has curry from India, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, the Caribbean, and other exotic places. You can get any curry dish with chicken, vegetables and/or tofu. My favorite is Golden Curry with tofu and vegetables. All entrees come with a pyramid of rice (white or brown) and a tasty salad, and you choose the level of spiciness for every dish. The Mulligatawny soup and garlic Naan bread are also really scrumptious.
Prices are reasonable, and I’m a cheapskate so you can trust me (under $7). Check it out at http://www.worldcurry.com, or by driving to Garnet Ave!
me if you are going there for lunch and I’ll
For names of your congressional reps, enter your zip code at http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov -- then:
more information go to: http://www.tortureisamoralissue.org/rca.aspx
Fa’afitai le Atua po le kuka!
word was Fa’afitai (fah-ah-fee-tah-ee) “Thank
you”. When I asked and was told this phrase,
I was first to receive the hot fresh chips: “Fa’afitai
le Atua po le kuka!” “Thank
you, Lord, for the cooks!”
Eggo means “English” in
meal It’s what’s for dinner…
New Members: Welcome!
We hope to see you at our upcoming events! Your presence, your stories, your fresh ideas and your participation keep us alive and connected to the world!
Hello! My name is Jacob Hall, and I’m the new Peace Corps Recruiter for the San Diego area. My Peace Corps service was in Nicaragua from 2000-02, where I was a small business volunteer in the city of Ocotal. Coincidentally, a nearby volunteer in Nicaragua started a small library with one of SDPCA’s mini-grants. I used to go there often to add to the collection!
I’m excited to be assigned to San Diego because of the great schools, laid back and friendly people, and the energetic SDPCA! I’m still learning about my role as a recruiter, and about the San Diego area. I currently live in Orange County, am originally from Fresno, and also lived in Milwaukee for awhile.
This summer we’ll have some weekend events at Border’s bookstores, the downtown library, and some other community locations. Also, from June 20-23 we are conducting a 50+ outreach campaign, with events targeted towards retirees and other older Americans.
I look forward to working closely with SDPCA, and hope to meet many of you at the annual party! Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions you may have to help me trumpet the opportunity of Peace Corps service! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 356-1114
Pacific Waves is published six times a year by the San Diego PeaceCorps Association which is fully responsible for its content. Except for copyrighted material, articles may be reprinted without permission with credit to the SDPCA.
Contributions are encouraged: e-mailed text file on disk- Mac preferred, or typed copy.
Please send to Editor, SDPCA, P.O. Box 26565, San Diego, CA 92196 or e-mail:
Nikol Shaw, Victor Bloomberg-PCV, Tim Muldrew-PCV, Kendra Goffredo-PCV, Jacob Hall, Sean Anderson, Lynn Jarrett, Brenda Terry-Hahn, Marjory Clyne, Sharon Kennedy Darrough, Kate McDevitt, Florence Williams Welch, Sira Perez, Joan Clabby, Don Beck